This work explores the passionate political strife that raged in Britain as a result of the American Civil War. Moving beyond Mary Ellison's 1972 landmark regional study of Lancashire cotton workers' reactions, R.J.M. Blackett opens the subject to a new, wider transatlantic context of influence and undertakes a deftly researched and written sociological, intellectual and political examination of who in Britain supported the Union, who the Confederacy, and why. Blackett argues that the traditional historiographical assessments of British partisanship along class and ecomic lines must be re-evaluated in light of the nature and changing contours of transatlantic abolitionist connections, the ways in which nationalism framed the debate, and the effect that race - among other issues -exerted over the British public's perception of conditions in America. He conducts a detailed study of the meetings, lectures, pamphlets, newspaper articles and other means that friends of the protagonists used to shape the public's view of the war. Both sides, he shows, operating on the assumption that in a democracy pressure from outside can and frequently does sway the government's action, made every effort to win widespread support for their position.
R. J. M. Blackett is the Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and the author of several books about nineteenth-century history, including Thomas Morris Chester: Black Civil War Correspondent.